At first thought, pairing an album with baby turnips and greens seemed pretty hard. I sought inspiration in a variety of sources. Some foods have symbolism, but despite significant research (i.e. I looked up turnips on Wikipedia), I could find no symbolic meaning associated with turnips. I even busted out the Oxford English Dictionary in order to look into the etymology of the word turnip, and found no inspiration there. However, I did learn that the earliest usage of turnip found in the English language is from a recipe dated approximately 1533, which noted that when “turnepes” are “boyled” they “norysheth moche” (although, as an fyi for the nerds like me, turnips do appear much earlier in Latin, and references date back to Pliny the Elder and Columella from the Roman Empire). After deciding to give up on inspirational gimmicks, I decided just to look for a simple, beautiful album. An album that is warming, earthy and that norysheth moche, er… is very nourishing. The result of this search was Sufjan Stevens‘ 2004 album Seven Swans.
Sufjan Stevens’ more recent albums have been lush, complex and intricate. Seven Swans, however, demonstrates that he doesn’t need this complexity to sound powerful and beautiful. Most of the songs on Seven Swans are relatively stripped down to Sufjan basics: his voice, acoustic guitar or banjo, subtle harmonies, and his witty, clever lyricism. The result is a gorgeous, simple album. I’m a fan of all of his albums, but my favorite Sufjan songs to date are definitely “That Dress Looks Nice On You” and “To Be Alone With You,” both of which are on this album. Although many of the songs on Seven Swans are religious in nature, Sufjan frequently focuses on aspects of religion that are universal. While “To Be Alone With You” is most certainly a song about Christ, it easily doubles as a secular song about the depths of love. You can still get the reissue of Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans on vinyl over at Insound.
Sufjan Stevens – The Dress Looks Nice On You
Sufjan Stevens – The One I Love (R.E.M. Cover)
Sufjan Stevens – The 50 State Song
Head back to the homepage to read Kase’s suggestions for preparing and enjoying baby turnips.